8 Common Foods (That Are Poisonous)
Photo illustrations by John Seaborn Gray
Earlier this week, Katharine Shilcutt took a look at 8 foods notable for containing trace amounts of radiation. She carefully pointed out that the radiation in those foods was so negligible, there's no real threat to you or me unless we were to ingest massive amounts of them. Well, that's not the way this article is going to work.
What we've got here are 8 foods that will almost certainly kill you and your entire family unless you keep reading and take the proper precautions. We've learned our lesson from the evening news, and are now relying on vague threats to scare you into staying tuned. Which common household foods could be used in a recipe... for murder? Does President Obama know about these foods, and does he callously serve them to his own family? Will any of them straight-up make your goddamned head explode?
The answers, after the jump.
1. Mushrooms How much do you trust the guy who picks your mushrooms? What about the guy who puts them on your pizza? With one small mistake, they could easily switch out normal, edible mushrooms for poisonous ones with awesome names. Seriously, two of the deadliest mushrooms are the death cap and the destroying angel. We'll repeat that: destroying angel. Jesus Christ, that is so metal.
But poisonous mushrooms don't necessarily have to kill you, oh no. Some will simply cause you to hallucinate, sending your fevered brain deep into spasms of madness and terror. Up is down, night is day, and all is lost. Do certain popular Nintendo characters endorse the regular ingestion of hallucinogenic mushrooms? We can't say for certain without making ourselves vulnerable to a libel suit. But yes.
2. Castor Beans Sure, we all remember Castor beans as the beans used to make Castor oil, the obnoxious, syrupy cough medicine so often shoveled down the throats of the Little Rascals by their heartless tyrant of a mother (or whoever that lady was, we haven't watched Our Gang in years). But little did you know Castor oil is commonly used in candies and chocolate, and unless it's prepared exactly right, it will kill you deader than those very Little Rascals. That's right: the Castor bean contains the deadly poison ricin, which is so toxic even the smallest amount could kill you several times over.
So deadly is ricin, it was used by the assassins known as "umbrella men," who clandestinely stabbed their quarry with an umbrella whose tip was designed to deliver a tiny pellet the size of a BB containing no more than a few grams of the terrifying poison. Of course, the umbrella men later reformed from their hitman ways and formed a successful musical act, but that doesn't mean ricin is any less dangerous. Think of that the next time you're making S'mores at the campsite: you could be baking a scrumptious, chocolatey treat... of death.
3. Almonds "Oh God, not almonds! What about my Nut 'n' Honey? My Almond Joy? My mixed nuts assortment?" You might as well be eating a big bowl of scorpions, you poor bastard. Raw almonds, sometimes called bitter almonds, contain cyanide, probably the most famous poison in the world, and responsible for the deaths of more Agatha Christie characters than old age. Oh sure, almond sellers claim the almonds are "processed" to remove the poison, but then why are bitter almonds illegal to sell in some countries, including New Zealand? Even the powerful magic of all the elves in Rivendell can't cleanse the filthy, diseased almond of its hateful death-juice.
Oh and guess what: It's not even a fucking nut. Neither are peanuts, cashews (also poisonous), pecans, macadamia "nuts," walnuts, pistachios, or pretty much every other food you've ever been told was a nut. That's right: you've never eaten a nut. They lied to you.
4. Chili Peppers Capsaicin. It's a mightily abrasive chemical they put in pepper spray and paint stripper, and if you ingest too much of it, it will kill you. But why on earth would you ingest such a volatile chemical? Oh, that's a great question, maybe because it's in chili peppers? The hotter a chili pepper is, the more capsaicin it's got in it. Remember that the next time you and your idiot friends get into a hot-chili-pepper-eating contest. What you're really doing is holding a race... to an early grave.
5. Cherries That's right: She's my cherry pie, looks so good, make a grown man die. Imagine you're God for just a second. If you're the person who handles our bank account, that should be really easy for you. You're creating a delicious fruit that people will use to make pie, cake and candy, and even enjoy eating raw. Something awesome added onto something else that's awesome will even come to be called the "cherry on top." Do you leave the fruit be? Or do you wrap it around a core of deadly poison? If you chose the first option, then you lack the sick sense of humor of our current God, because the cherry pit is basically a hydrogen cyanide bomb. Don't bite it, don't suck on it, don't even look at it. The smallest abrasion could cause it to leak into your mouth, where even a little bit of this particular poison could make you sick or kill you. That might be something to add on, the next time you're saying grace: "Dear Lord, please don't let anything you've hidden in any of this food kill me. Amen."
6. Apples Apples have seeds which, like the cherry pit, contain cyanide. But you spit out the seeds, right? Hell, let's hope so, genius.
7. Tomatoes Oh, boy, you're making spaghetti sauce with those tomatoes you've been growing out in the garden! Stick 'em in the blender, liquify 'em, spice 'em up, slather 'em on the noodles, and eat that entire plate clean. And then maybe go take a post-meal nap. Unfortunately, you forgot to remove the stems, so that nap is going to be permanent. Tomato leaves and stems contain glykoalkaloids, and while you'll rarely ingest enough to kill you, it can cause panic attacks and stomach problems. So, okay, maybe death by tomato is a long shot, even by this article's standards. But they could damn sure ruin a date.
8. Potatoes Not only do potatoes contain poison in their stems and leaves, but they also become loaded with the poison solanine when they get too green. Solanine sounds like it was made up for a video game, but we assure you, it's quite real: People still die from potato poisoning. Did you know there's such a thing as "potato leaf tea"? You idiot. Why not just steep your tea with a bag of drain cleaner? God help us all.
Stay tuned for our exclusive report: Which common household tooth-picking device causes upwards of 60 deaths a year? We'll tell you after these messages. Stay scared, America.
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